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Bloomberg: North Sea Forties Oil Rises Near a Record; BP Sells Vitol Cargo

By Alexander Kwiatkowski

March 12 (Bloomberg) — Forties crude, one of the four North Sea grades that determine the pricing benchmark for two-thirds of the world’s oil, rose to near a record as gasoil demand increased oil consumption. Vitol Group bought a cargo from BP Plc.

Forties’ premium to Dated Brent was at $1.75 a barrel today, compared with $1.40 yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Forties reached a record premium of $2 over Dated Brent in August 2004.

North Sea crude oil has strengthened as record gasoil prices in Europe increase the profitability of refining and encourage fuel producers to buy more oil. The difference between gasoil and crude futures contracts was at $23.13 a barrel in London today, about 62 percent higher than the year-to-date average.

The price of Forties rose after Vitol bought a cargo of Forties from BP at a premium of $1.75 to Dated Brent, the companies confirmed. Royal Dutch Shell Plc also bid for a cargo without attracting a seller, the company said.

Dated Brent is set by the cheapest of four crude grades: Shell’s Brent blend, the BP-operated Forties, StatoilHydro ASA’s Oseberg and ConocoPhillips’s Ekofisk blend. Forties is currently the cheapest grade.

Dated Brent for loading in 10 to 21 days rose 1.4 percent to $107.20 a barrel today, from $105.73 yesterday, according to Bloomberg data.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexander Kwiatkowski in London at [email protected]

Last Updated: March 12, 2008 07:55 EDT

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